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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 16

(Question No. 1409)

Senator Puplick asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, upon notice, on 8 October 1986:

(1) Is West Germany one of the few Western European countries which has not entered into a reciprocal arrangement with Australia and other countries for recognition of charging of telephone calls either by way of `collect' charge or international telephone credit cards.

(2) What are the reasons for the lack of an arrangement with West Germany and are further discussions scheduled with that Government; if so, when is it expected that a suitable arrangement will be able to be concluded.

Senator Walsh —The Minister for Communications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question based on information provided by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission:

(1) The Federal Republic of Germany does not currently provide an international collect or credit card telephone service, having withdrawn the service for calls to the Federal Republic of Germany in June 1981 and for calls from the Federal Republic of Germany in November 1983. The Federal Republic of Germany's decision to withdraw this service category is believed to have been based on its experience of difficulty in collecting charges from German subscribers, unacceptable financial losses associated with the expense of handling collect calls, the potential for fraudulent use of the service and the high level of automation of the telephone service which enables callers to use a short ISD ``ring-me-back'' call.

(2) In the circumstances, there is little likelihood that a collect or credit card service with the Federal Republic of Germany will be reinstituted. However, the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) is exploring the possibility of an alternative arrangement which would make available to Australians in the Federal Republic of Germany a similar service, and negotiations with the Federal Republic of Germany are scheduled to commence shortly.